Parkways-Constant Memory

On their debut album, Parkways capture a classic sense of pop-punk malaise.  The band’s debut EP Constant Memory draws from lo-fi and pop-punk past, but it never feels nostalgic.  The Trenton-based group create the type of energy suited for jumping around in basements. Continue reading

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boygenius-boygenius

The idea of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus forming a band and releasing a great EP almost sounds like a joke.  While each is distinctive from the next, they’re all within the same ballpark; it’s sounds too good to be true.  Also, this record is the real fucking deal.  It wouldn’t be a shocker if it was a cheap cash-in EP for a massive tour, but it’s an unbelievably dynamic record.  If each of these women wanted to quit their solo careers and just focus on boygenius, I’m sure it would be just as compelling.  What makes boygenius an engaging listen is the exact same thing that makes each singer’s solo albums engaging, they’re strong women who find that strength in being vulnerable and emotional. Continue reading

Steady Hands-Truth in Comedy

     Supposedly, the ancient Persians would make laws, and then, they would get drunk to make sure they made the right law.  Looking through history, some of our greatest thinkers, writers, and figures have been drunks, and it’s makes you think maybe the Persians had something.  That’s not to say all important life decisions should be decided when teetering on a blackout, but sometimes brilliance can be whiskey drenched.  Steady Hands explore the inner workings of human nature, while downing a Pabst Blue Ribbon on their proper debut album Truth in Comedy.   Continue reading

Joyce Manor-Million Dollars to Kill Me

Joyce Manor’s 2016 album Cody showed a band that was willing to take a step away from the abrasive, no bullshit pop-punk that they’d perfected into a band with similar ethics but making more power-pop inspired indie rock.  Sure, there were still pop-punk bangers like “Fake I.D.” and “Reversing Machine,” but songs like “Eighteen” or “This Song Is A Mess But So Am I” fell more into a sort of Blue Album worship in crafting great pop-savvy indie rock.  Million Dollars to Kill Me doesn’t feel like a continuation of Cody nor does it feel like it’s picking up after Never Hungover Again; it sounds like a band that is truly without a care and is making whatever the hell it wants. Continue reading

Eminem-Kamikaze

            Remember on Recovery when Eminem straight up said, “Them last two albums didn’t count/Encore, I was on drugs. Relapse, I was flushin’ ‘em out?”  While Recovery may not be the definitive album in Marshall Mathers’ catalogue, it was really great to see Eminem own up to two albums that were really just subpar, and that album was followed by Eminem’s best album in 11 years.  Revival was a serious misstep for Eminem, and while there’s a certain excitement and viciousness in Kamikaze, it’s an even bigger one. Continue reading

Death Cab For Cutie-Thank You For Today

            Death Cab For Cutie have always been a respectable indie-rock act with personable lyrics that appeal to people that may also dabble with theatrical emo.  Ben Gibbard and company have always created serviceable sad jams.  Even on 2015’s Kintsugi, despite age and maturity, Gibbard was able to bring the self-loathing goods on a song like “No Room in Frame.”  Thank You For Today sees the band’s expansion of sound that they began exploring on Codes and Keys, but it also sees the band peddling back into their early material.  The album comes out feeling like an incoherent blob of ennui. Continue reading

Real Friends-Composure

In “Stand Steady,” the second track off of Real Friends’ third full-length Composure, frontman Dan Lambton sings, “It’s good that I’ve grown.”  In pop-punk, Peter Pan-syndrome runs rampant, and records about growing will always be in vogue.  Whether they’re about resisting development or the difficulties of growing, this is a pop-punk standard, but Real Friends hasn’t really grown or changed besides switching up their charade. Continue reading

Panic! At The Disco-Pray for the Wicked

When Panic! At The Disco released A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out in 2005, it was a breath of fresh air to the alternative/emo/pop-punk scene that was spilling into the mainstream.  Fever was a rock record that also felt like a work of theater, carnival sideshows and electronica, but what’s most incredible is P!ATD couldn’t follow it up for another decade.  Pretty Odd, the group’s last record with all four founding members, was a brilliant work of Beatles fetishism that couldn’t appeal to a large part of the fanbase.  Vices & Virtues felt like Fever lite.  Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die served as an enjoyable transition to 2016’s Death of a Bachelor, an album that may be the group’s best and the only one that feels as fully realized as FeverBachelor was the group’s most exhilarating release in over a decade, and that leads to why Pray for the Wicked is such a profound disappointment.  It’s a transitionary record for what may well be the wrong direction. Continue reading

Petal-Magic Gone

               Despite 2015’s Shame being a powerful debut filled with pounding hits (“Tommy”) and emotive ballads (“Heaven”), it didn’t really deliver nearly as much as one would hope a debut would.  Kiley Lotz, Petal’s songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, revealed in a recent piece for Out that this would be the first album where she has songs about her sexuality.  Magic Gone sees Lotz jumping over any hurdles that Shame couldn’t completely clear.  The songs are fearless and well-crafted on Magic Gone.  Lotz retains the charm of her first album, but she holds nothing back here. Continue reading